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Advent Waiting: Watchful and Alert




A reflection on Mark 13:33-37





First Sunday of Advent

“Be watchful! Be Alert! You do not know when the time will come.” (Mark 13:33)

Advent always seems to sneak up on me. Most years, it begins the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and with all the preparation and excitement of that national holiday, Advent becomes an afterthought. It’s just the end of a four-day weekend. And all of a sudden it’s time to get out the advent wreath and the nativity scenes and put up the tree. And we slip from one holiday into another, decorating, buying, and rushing, rushing, rushing.

But Jesus doesn’t tell us to rush. He tells us to wait. And he tells us how to wait. “Be watchful! Be alert!” We are to wait as the servants wait for their master’s arrival, not knowing the day or the hour. It is a watchful waiting, a ready waiting.

We have forgotten how to wait. Oh, we are accustomed to waiting. We wait in the doctor’s office, at a stop light, for the elevator, for our online order. But we’ve forgotten how to wait. We wait impatiently, with a never-ending to-do list scrolling through our minds, or fretfully, with a constant barrage of negative thoughts about ourselves or others. Most of the time, to escape these feelings, we wait mindlessly, numbing out with our phones. So we are not watchful. We are most certainly not alert. We view waiting as a necessary evil we have to cope with, a painful experience that must be endured.

What if we changed the way we think about waiting? Advent literally means “coming,” and in this season we are specifically waiting for the celebration of the coming of the Messiah, the birth of the God-Man, Jesus Christ. But in the midst of this preparation, particularly in these first few days of Advent, we are to call to mind the Second Coming, the time when He will return, when He will place all enemies beneath His feet and God will be all in all. (1 Cor 15:28).

We call that time Parousia. When God will be all in all, when there will be no more tears, no more pain. There will be joy, endless joy. How much of our time waiting do we spend thinking about this time? We are so tied down to our earthly problems that we forget that everything in this world points to that. We forget that we are on a journey, a journey with a destination, and for the entire creation that destination is this moment. I’m reminded of The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis. In the book, he describes souls in the midst of their journey to heaven, having left earth, and as they go, the grass beneath their feet becomes sharper because the further they go on their journey, the closer they are to what is truly real. The dawn is breaking, and that beautiful eternal moment will be the realest, truest moment of all existence.

This is what we are waiting for. We are not to watch and wait with dread. We are not to distract ourselves in an attempt to get the waiting over with. Instead, the waiting should be as we wait for the sun to rise. We see the beautiful pink glow spread across the sky, and we anticipate the moment when the light will spread to every dark corner of the earth. In our hearts, there is peace. Because the Son is coming.

“In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (From the Canticle of Zechariah, Luke 1)

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

by Katie

#Advent #Katie #Mark #ScriptureReflection

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